Is disruptive innovation in emerging economies different? Evidence from China

Peter Williamson, Feng Wan, Eden Yin, Linan Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Most studies on disruptive innovations have focused on developed economies and little work examines this type of innovation in and from emerging economies. Moreover, previous studies on disruptive innovations have not investigated the processes behind. This study begins to fill these research gaps. Analysing disruptive innovations in and from China, we identify three important differences from the kinds of disruption observed in developed economies. First, rather than being based on launching products with inferior performance, disruptive innovations in China focus on offering different value propositions. Second, the rate at which Chinese disruptive innovations are improved and extended is typically faster than in developed markets. Third, Chinese disruptive innovations are often launched directly into a mass market rather than a niche. Besides identifying these differences, we also discuss how Chinese firms generate disruptive innovations. The findings expand the understanding of disruptive innovation and hence enrich the existing literature on this important phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101590
JournalJournal of Engineering and Technology Management
Early online date2 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Disruptive innovation
  • Emerging economies
  • Innovation process

Cite this